Airborne Festival - Honoring the Legacy of Robert Davidson

Fly-by-Night Dance Theater, Inc.

Fly-by-Night Dance honors the legacy of Aerial Dancer/Mentor Robert Davidson with performances by Guest Aerial Artists from around the country who were deeply influenced by Davidson.

Featuring Aerial Artists:
Jayne Bernasconi
Nathan Dryden
Melissa Noble
Nancy Smith, Frequent Flyers® Aerial Dance
Eileen Little & Dan Loeser / Fight or Flight Theater
Fly-by-Night dancers Janet Aisawa, Elise Knudson, Julie Ludwick
Live Music by Paul Uhry Newman
Films of Robert Davidson

Photo by Fred Hatt

Artist Biographies:
Jayne Bernasconi, began her professional career in the 1980’s dancing and training in NYC with various modern dance companies and icons including Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, David Gordon, Stephen Petronio and Pooh Kaye. In 1990 she relocated to VT and founded Forces of Ability (for adults) and Artsability (for children) with mixed ability populations, receiving support from the National Endowment For The Arts. She also danced with Bill T. Jones’: The Last Supper At Uncle Tom’s Cabin. From 1995-1999 she relocated again to Boulder, CO and danced with Frequent Flyers Productions, where she worked with aerial pioneers Nancy Smith, Terry Sendgraff and Robert Davidson. She has taught and participated in the international Aerial Dance Festival since its inception in 1999. She is the co-author of the book/DVD “Aerial Dance” with Nancy Smith (c. 2008, Human Kinetics) which track the roots of the movers and shakers that laid the foundation of aerial dance in the post-modern dance world. Bernasconi is the inventor of aerial yoga where she developed and introduced the first class on a single point double bar trapeze in 2003 at the Aerial Dance Festival (Boulder). She also pioneered mixed ability aerial dance from her many years of creating dance on people with mixed abilities. In 1999, Bernasconi moved to Baltimore, MD and founded Air Dance Bernasconi, performing throughout the Baltimore/DC, Virginia and West Virginia areas. Currently, she is adjunct professor at Towson University and teaches aerial dance and yoga. She is also the owner of Yoga On York, (

Nathan Dryden is a movement artist, teacher, and performer with a MFA in Dance and Choreography from the University of Utah. His work crosses through the fields of contemporary dance, improvisation, theatre, and aerial-dance. In October 2017 Dryden was featured in, We Rise and Fall Together, a TEDx Talk in Salt Lake City a production he put together. Dryden is on faculty as an Open Source Forms teacher trainer and is a certified instructor of the Skinner Releasing Technique at the Introductory and Ongoing levels. He has taught as a guest artist at various universities across the U.S.A. and internationally – including workshops in Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, and England. He is a regular guest artist at the Juniata College Theatre Department teaching, mentoring, and creating/directing works including: And They Lay…Dreaming, Charles Mee’s Big Love, and most recently Samuel Beckett Circus with Kate Clarke.

Melissa Noble was a touring member of the Robert Davidson Dance Company from 1994-1999 and was part of the development of "Rapture Rumi" work that debuted at On The Boards in Seattle, WA. She then began a tour with Aero-Betty of Portland, OR, which included the Macy’s Passport shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles and were broadcast on national TV. Her ongoing exploration of Aerial Dance and Movement Theatre has led her to collaborate with Avant Garde theatre companies such as Circus Contraption, the Pacific Performance Project, The Cabiri and choreograph for Winfall Dance Company in Bloomington, IN as well as several works for ARC Dance Company in Seattle, WA including the world premiere of her aerial dance piece “Beyond Flight” at Meany Hall at the University of Washington. She has taught singers at the Jacob’s School of Music and the Houston Grand Opera Studio and has choreographed for many operas, including the Kaneko Project of Madame Butterfly, Madison Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera North Carolina, and San Francisco Opera. Melissa has been faculty at the University of Washington, Indiana University and as an Artist in Residence at Juniata College. Currently she is on Faculty at University of Houston. She and her husband, Adam Noble, are co-directors of Dynamic Presence Project and have mounted original works at On The Boards, Seattle and Indianapolis Fringe Festival. Melissa is an MFA candidate in the Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms program at University of Houston School of Art and most recently has completed an Artist Residency in Marfa,TX.

Fight or Flight has been creating exciting and original aerial theatre for 10 years. Formed in Brooklyn in 2008 by MFA graduates Eileen Little & John Behlmann as an outlet for continuing the trapeze teachings of Bob Davidson, Head of Movement, National Theatre Conservatory. Specializing in original works and adaptations, Fight or Flight has had productions Off-Broadway (Shakespeare’s Richard II / co-production with Sonnet Rep, Trapeze Hero! / ArsNova ANTFest, This is Not J.A.W.S. / Dixon Place) Regionally (Shakespeare’s Henry V at Burning Coal Theatre, Raleigh, NC, Winner of 2011 Triangle Arts Best Play, Best Director, Best Lead/s, Best Ensemble) and countless workshops, exhibitions, and educational performances across the country.

Nancy Smith, founder and Artistic Director of Frequent Flyers in Boulder Colorado, Smith has ​over her 31 years of studying and teaching aerial work, she has developed the Aerial Release Technique (A.R.T.) and works with all levels of aerialists to refine their technique for fluidity, effortlessness, and lines in the body. Her work with Frequent Flyers Productions has been seen at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, in Boston, Virginia, New Orleans, Utah, San Francisco, the Bahamas, and throughout Colorado. She has received numerous awards and honors including the Living Legend of Dance in Colorado award, Women Who Light the Community, Cutting Edge Award from the Colorado Dance Alliance, the Boulder County Pacesetters Award for Arts and Entertainment, a Neodata Endowment Fellowship in Dance, and the Arts Innovation Award from the Colorado Federation of the Arts. ​

Julie Ludwick / Fly-by-Night Dance Theater has created dozens of works for Fly-by-Night Dance and her work with theater includes Mapou Productions How Papa Noel Forgot Haiti at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall starring Danny Glover and The Circus Show at the University of Missouri’s Graduate School for Theater. She is a master teacher, choreographer, dancer, and scholar. Her classes have been featured in Paper Magazine, Time Out NY and in a documentary from AfterEd TV, as an outstanding alum of Teachers College, Columbia University. As Artistic Director of Fly-by-Night Dance she has produced 7 Aerial Dance Festivals in New York City, 8 Free-for-Kids Projects, and 13 seasons of her own repertory.

Robert Davidson was a master teacher, musician, aerial dance performer and choreographer and was the Head of Movement at the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver from 1997-2012. Prior to that he was director of his own aerial dance company, touring nationally and internationally, and received numerous grants and creative fellowships. Throughout his career he collaborated with many diverse theatre directors and acting teachers on hundreds of classical and experimental projects. His expertise was in teaching Skinner Releasing Technique, movement improvisation, and aerial dance on low-flying trapezes. A member of Who’s Who for life, he died, suddenly, at the age of 70 in December of 2016.




AIRBORNE FESTIVAL – Honoring the Legacy of Robert Davidson is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

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